FLATE's Executive Director Celebrates Manufacturing in Florida

Happy New Year! Before we move forward with new year’s resolutions, let’s take a quick trip through last year. Manufacturing in the US was a big story in the U.S. press in 2011. Manufacturing’s strategic role in our economy was highlighted, and brought to national attention. Americans are looking to manufacturing to move the economy forward. The Manufacturing Institute’s website (www.themanufacturinginstitute.org) captured and shares some important facts that put numbers to the issue, and are reprinted in the accompanying box. These 5 concise bullets are a shorthand reminder of why manufacturing is important and why FLATE is focused on building the high skilled, educated workforce that Florida manufacturers need. Additionally, manufacturing was identified as a driver of innovation, invention, and new technologies and processes that keep the U.S. competitive in the global community. From the White House, the President launched several initiatives to support and enhance U.S. manufacturing. These included establishing the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, a consortium of research institutions and universities that will focus cutting-edge and new technologies that support advanced modern manufacturing.

Closer to home, local and regional efforts in support of manufacturing are also underway right here in Florida. Besides our own ongoing comprehensive support of manufacturing education in Florida’s colleges and high schools, the Manufacturers Association of Florida (MAF) has formed the MAF Center for Manufacturing Excellence. This new arm of MAF will support manufacturing education efforts in Florida. Not for profit professional entities in other states leverage their resources with other regional NSF ATE centers and FLATE looks forward to a strong partnership and synergy with this new organization in 2012. On another front, Florida Regional Manufacturing Associations grew in numbers and membership adding a new organization, North Central Florida Manufacturing Association (NCFMA) that will serve the Alachua – north central Florida region. Our own local Bay Area Manufacturers Association (BAMA) has been reinvigorated and had a busy year with some record sized meetings, membership growth, and more tours, educational and policy focused events. Additionally, BAMA reinstalled its scholarship program and other educational activities. MAF, supported by a grant from Workforce Florida, will launch a Florida version of the NAM Dream It! Do It! campaign. This effort will complement and enhance FLATE’s “Made in Florida” recruitment and outreach activities and programs that have been ongoing and growing since 2005.

Now on to 2012, please join FLATE in celebrating manufacturing in Florida in 2012 with FLATE’s own “Year of Manufacturing Awareness” initiatives. We are starting with a workshop with the regional manufacturing associations at Harris Corporation in Melbourne on February 9 to establish ways for individual manufacturers and associations can incorporate activities into their regional events which project a positive perspective of modern manufacturing to their communities, as well as promote manufacturing careers and technical education pathways to students within their high school and career academies. For now, enjoy this abbreviated edition of the FLATE Focus that encourages everyone to explore the world of small scale devices this spring at a number of FLATE supported events; reviews how the National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program has supported technical education in Florida since the mid 1990’s through various college-focused and regional projects; and don’t forget to start out the year right by solving the first 2012 sTEm-at-work puzzle. Oh yes, our best New Year’s resolution? We are going to provide puzzle answers every other month this year.